Movies significantly water down the ritual of Exorcism. What is important to know is that exorcisms still do occur and are taken seriously by the Catholic Church. Here are some notes and the stages of an exorcism.
- Once engaged in an exorcism it cannot be called off.
- There is the belief that no matter the outcome of the exorcism, the contact is partly fatal for the exorcist, because every time the exorcist engages in an exorcism something in him dies.
- If an exorcist loses he may never again perform the rite of Exorcism.
- The place of the exorcism is usually in the home of the possessed person. Once chosen, the room where the exorcism will be conducted is cleared of all objects that can be moved.
- The only people in the room who are dressed in a special way are the priest and his assistant, both wearing black cassocks. Close family can be in the room, but the number is limited to usually a few.
From the moment the priest enters the room he is looking for the sense of a presence, an invisible, intangible and unhuman element.
Step 1: Pretense
In the early stage of an exorcism, the evil spirit does everything they can to hide behind the possessed. This first job of the priest is to force the spirit to reveal itself as a separate entity from the possessed. This step can sometimes last for days. If the entity does not show itself the priest cannot proceed.
Signs the priest is looking for at this stage include the behavior of the possessed increases in violence, physical attacks, gnashing of teeth, repulsive stench and so on.
Step 2: Breakpoint
The violence and repulsive behavior intensifies. Here is where the priest typically falters. The possessed no longer speaks in their voice. It’s a new alien voice that speaks. Inhuman sounds may begin to emit from the possessed. The spirit may begin to use words like “I” or “We” and refer to the possessed body as “Ours.”
Step 3: Voice
During the breaking point the priest hears the voice. It’s a disturbing and distressing babel of syllables, sometimes slow and sometimes fast. The exorcist can only proceed to the next step when this voice is silenced.
Step 4: Clash
Here we begin to see two-way communication, a conversation. This is the most dreadful part for the exorcist. Here the priest must provoke. The main battle is seen here, will the total inhuman invade and take over the body? He must lock wills with the evil thing. Here the priest must finally force the thing to give its name, and some exorcists will go further and try to pursue as much information as they can.
Step 5: Expulsion
Once the priest has the name he can move toward expelling the evil spirit. Sometimes the priest will appeal to the possessed urging them to use some of their own free will to help fight and aid the exorcist. During this stage the exorcist is under full attack. The exorcist will be lured but he must fight all traps. If the priest falls under any trap he can be damaged physically, emotionally or mentally.
If the exorcism is successful it ends. The victim will wake up and sometimes remember everything that’s happened and sometimes they will not remember anything at all.
Of course there is much more detail in between, but we just thought some of you would be interested to see those stages listed out.